This is the game where Martin O’Neill could meet his untimely end.
I say untimely, because it should have happened months prior to the Welsh test and not out of a fondness for the regime.
Should the axe be swung following a defeat tomorrow, it will have been done in a fashion suitable to the aforementioned tenure.
That’s because it will likely occur following a lack of success in front of goal. While out of character for this side to even try and score a goal, the fact these scenarios are almost by design lends an irony to the situation.
O’Neill is consistently ripped apart for his lack of footballing endeavour; through all the associated clichés and excuses, one principle remains the same – you cannot win a football match if you do not score.
That it’s one of few indisputable footballing truths means that sidestepping the need to win as best you can in order to self-preserve and avoid facing facts no longer stands up when there’s no alternative.
Angst support, poor performances and disregard for footballing philosophy couldn’t bring about a shift in focus – so the only finality in football – winning or losing – is finally applicable to a man who will do anything to avoid being realistic about the sport in which he’s employed, but self-admittedly doesn’t coach.
You can guarantee the time O’Neill saves by not coaching is spent flicking through self-made excuse charts.
The Welsh? Semi-final of the last Euros. But, they’re not quite the same machine and he’ll be held to account if this is the last straw at which he thinks he can clutch.
Gareth Bale is out. So is Aaron Ramsey. Even the bright spark Ethan Ampadu is missing. This Welsh team has little going for it, and they’re in Dublin.
If you don’t take pride in your football, at least take pride in your home.
But as O’Neill’s harsh jibes at squad members he’s been forced to bring in due to external pressure from supporters, and not the clear footballing ability that his decision should be based upon, resonate around Dublin and further afield, it seems that criticism can only run one-way.
His hands-off approach must take a very different form in his own mind. To him, perhaps freeing himself from criticism around style of play means he can’t be dissected by tactical wannabes.
When in fact, it further separates him from a vision that any half-aware football governing body would wish to adopt.
This is the nation’s game. Ireland winning a Rugby World Cup wouldn’t even compare to picking up a group stage win over a half-decent side at the football equivalent.
That’s real passion, and only with passion do we find justified resolution.
The resolution to this chapter in Irish football has been long written in the stars above Abbotstown.
But, the FAI’s telescope must have been out on loan to help fund the Aviva Stadium repayments. Seemingly, that burden is shed by 2020.
Perhaps with 2020 vision of their own, we wouldn’t have to pair being under financial strain with the removal of all footballing enjoyment at the highest level in this country until at least then.
Wales are in a similar boat to ourselves. As footballing entities, we’re both fairly much in England’s shadow – and Gareth Bale aside, we rely on them to protect, produce and promote our players.
Yet, through embracing identity and getting in someone who respects that enough to complement work done behind the scenes, they’ve overachieved. To see the growth of a footballing structure bring about the death of another who wandered off track in search of excuses, will be poetic.
So far have we fallen, that the need to switch mentality in search of a win seems laborious. Being stuck in neutral for this long has seen us slip into reverse and trying to instantly accelerate will see the whole thing blow up.
You’re far more likely to accept a nasty end when the whole journey to this point has been a car crash anyway.
Supporting this side has made us all feel a bit like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.